Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lawsuit Targets Makers of Household Cleaners

A lawsuit was filed this week in New York state seeking to enforce a law on the books since 1976, but never enforced. The suit was filed by the nonprofit public interest law firm Earthjustice on behalf of: Women's Voices for the Earth, Environmental Advocates of New York, New York Public Interest Research Group, Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, and American Lung Association in New York. The group seeks to force chemical manufactures to disclose the chemical ingredients in their products and any health hazards they may pose.

See full article here.

According to New York law, companies are are required to file semi-annual reports with the state listing the chemicals contained in their products and describing any company research on these chemicals' health and environmental effects. But since the 1976 law was passed, companies have not filed a single report.

I support any effort to increase transparency when it comes to household and commercial cleaning products. As a residential cleaning service owner, it is important for me to know exactly what I am exposing my staff and my clients to.

As the article points out, ingredient disclosure requirements are virtually non-existent in the United States. While I understand the manufacturer's stance that they could be disclosing trade secrets that would put them at a competitive disadvantage, I think the public has a right to know if the products they or a professional are using are potentially harmful to themselves or the environment.

OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires that professional cleaning companies like Partners In Grime carry a MSDS (Material Safety Date Sheet) for every cleaning chemical we use. A MSDS is a disclosure form designed to provide both workers and emergency personnel with the proper procedures for handling or working with a particular substance. MSDS's include information such as physical data, toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill/leak procedures.

MSDS's are designed for employees, employers, and emergency personnel. MSDS's are not written for consumers. An MSDS reflects the hazards of working with the material in an occupational fashion. For example, an MSDS for a particular cleaner is not highly pertinent to someone who uses a bottle of it once a year, but is extremely important to someone who does this in a confined space 40 hours a week.

All of Partners In Grime's professional cleaning crews carry a MSDS with them at all times for every cleaning chemical we use. If any of our clients would like to see a particular MSDS, please ask the cleaning crew to show you. You can always call or email our office and we will be happy to fax or email them to you as well.

Partners In Grime

8031 Ward Parkway Plaza

Kansas City, MO 64114